The (CBI) told a court in Pune on Thursday that Amol Kale, the prime accused in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, was also a key conspirator in the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar.
The agency said it was Kale, a 37-year-old with an engineering diploma from Chinchwad, who had arranged the vehicle and firearms for the assailants who killed the anti-superstition activist in Pune on August 20, 2013.
The two men who allegedly shot Dabholkar, Aurangabad residents Sachin Andure and Sharad Kalaskar, have both been arrested. While Andure is in judicial custody, Kalaskar is in the custody of the CBI. Lankesh was shot dead at her residence in Bengaluru on September 5, 2017.
The Special Investigation Team of Karnataka Police, which had first arrested Kale, had handed him over to the CBI. He was produced before the Pune court for his remand in connection with the Dabholkar murder case.
In June 2016, CBI had arrested Dr Virendra Tawde, an ENT surgeon and a member of right-wing organisation Sanatan Sanstha, for allegedly plotting the conspiracy to kill Dabholkar.
“The probe has revealed that Kale was the key conspirator after Tawde and played an important role in the planning. As he is a local resident, he was also the one who arranged logistics like the motorcycle and the firearms used in the attack. We have reasons to believe that because of the successful execution of the conspiracy to murder Dabholkar in 2013, Kale went on to play a major role in the Gauri Lankesh murder in 2017,” said a CBI official on condition of anonymity.
A case diary of the progress in the investigation was placed before the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class S M A Sayyed, based on which Kale’s CBI custody was requested by Prosecutor Vijaykumar Dhakne. After the Bombay High Court recently made some critical observations about investigating agencies revealing information to media in sensitive cases, the CBI prosecutor refrained from arguing in open court in the presence of reporters.
However, Kale’s defence lawyer, Dharma Raj Chandel, argued that Kale was already in the custody of Karnataka Police and he had been questioned earlier in connection with the Dabholkar case. Chandel argued that there was no point in giving his custody again in the same case. However, after reading the remand report and case diary from the CBI, the court remanded Kale to CBI’s custody till September 14.